Over the course of general manager Kevin Colbert’s tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting in the year 2000, the team has drafted five quarterback not named Ben Roethlisberger. Over a 16-year span in which he has been a factor in making draft picks, that works out to about one mid- to late-round quarterback drafted every three years or so.
2016 would be the third draft since they most recently added a quarterback through the draft when they selected Landry Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft, and it took him three years and a trio of injuries before he got an opportunity the demonstrate whether or not he can play in the NFL.
The Steelers were unconvinced heading into the 2015 season that he could be the backup to Roethlisberger to such a degree that they went out and signed Mike Vick, expecting him to be able to run the offense in a short about of time as an August signing. But they had seen so little from Jones to convince them he would be the better option.
Even after the season, Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin have been hesitant to pat him on the back too hard—Tomlin, for example, refused to categorize his evaluation of Jones’ season as one with which he was “satisfied”—and, given that he is heading into his final season, and there is no meaningful third quarterback on the roster (and, of course, the Steelers always carry three quarterbacks), it is very possible that we see the team add one through the draft in the mid to late rounds once again.
And they have shown interest in a couple of quarterbacks that would be realistic options—and some options that are significantly less realistic—among them Dak Prescott, Vernon Adams, and, as is seemingly the case with almost every player out of Ohio State, Cardale Jones, the latter of whom no doubt heavily regrets returning for another season.
With even the health status of veteran quarterback Bruce Gradkowski currently remaining uncertain—not to mention the fact that he has hardly played in years and is approaching his mid-30s—it would certainly not be surprising if the Steelers do turn to the draft rather than re-sign him. That the veteran quarterback market on the outside is also less than stellar could also be a contributing factor.
One thing seems virtually certain, and that is that they will add another quarterback in some form or fashion, even with it being unlikely that that quarterback will have been on the team at some point a year ago. Whether that comes through free agency or the draft remains to be seen, but the latter may be the more realistic option.
Not many people seem to be a fan of the team adding depth at the position through this route—myself, Alex, and Dave among them—not just for the simple fact that such players rarely ever amount to much, but, as much as it may disappoint, it would seem that the 2016 draft, based on their history, current roster, and expressed interest, would be as likely a time as any for them to do so.